Blue Cross-hospitals collaboration aims to cut readmissions

No one can accuse Illinois hospitals of failing to take readmissions seriously, anymore. Last September, the Illinois Hospital Association launched its "Raising the Bar" initiative, aimed at reducing readmissions and cutting hospital-acquired infections. This week, the IHA and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois announced a similar venture with a focus on improving patient quality via care transition, palliative care improvements and--you guessed it--reduced readmission rates.

While the initiative, known as PREP (Preventing Readmissions through Effective Partnerships), aims for 33 percent readmission reductions by 2014, according to Chicago Breaking Business, the IHA was light on details. The association did mention hospital partnerships with experts from Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the university's Feinberg School of Medicine, as well as a BCBSIL contribution of up to $1 million annually to help IHA with, among other things, technical assistance, according to a press release.

"This partnership is an outstanding example of how the provider and payer communities can work together to transform healthcare in Illinois," IHA president Maryjane Wurth said in a statement. "PREP has great potential for both improving the quality of healthcare provided to Illinoisans, and reducing costs."

Both efforts come on the heels of the Commonwealth Fund's 2009 report card in which Illinois ranked 44th nationally for Medicare 30-day readmissions as a percentage of readmissions at 20.3 percent. According to BCBSIL Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Scott Sarran, the state could save $150 million just by reducing that number to 17.5 percent, the national median.

"Over time, these savings will go back to the taxpayers and businesses in Illinois, as well as the state [Medicaid], the federal government [Medicare], employers, and individual policy holders in the form of lower healthcare costs," Wurth said. "More important will be the improved health and safety of patients, and the satisfaction hospital and physician partners receive from being able to deliver improved care."

To learn more:
- here's the IHA/BCBSIL joint press release
- read this Chicago Breaking Business article